El Dorado County’s Health and Human Services Agency on Tuesday updates the board of supervisors on its efforts to stop the commercial sexual exploitation of children, a growing problem in the county.
From 2010 to 2012, the HHSA was aware of three child exploitation cases in the county. Since 2013, it has become aware of 15 more cases, most of which are children in the foster care or probation systems.
“We need to change the conversation,” said Mark S. Contois, assistant director of human services of HHSA. “This exploitation of children is one of the most horrific crimes possible and we need to treat these children as victims instead of criminals by providing the children with the intensive intervention and services needed to be successful.”
To address the issue of human trafficking and sexual exploitation for foster and probation youth, HHSA has partnered with Placerville Police, El Dorado County Probation, El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office, El Dorado County District Attorney’s Office, El Dorado County Counsel and the El Dorado County Office of Education to form the Foster Youth and Human Trafficking Task Force.
The task force’s goal, according to HHSA, is to quickly respond and address all needs of the child and pursue criminal prosecution against people who are exploiting children.
“Human trafficking can only be stopped through the coordinated efforts of many organizations,” Contois said. “Our county task force brings the right people to the table to combat human trafficking locally through partnership, awareness, prevention and prosecution.”
According to HHSA and the Federal Bureau of Investigations, three of the nation’s 13 largest child prostitution areas are in California, the San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego metropolitan areas. Sacramento is one of several California hubs for trafficking because of its central location between Stockton, the Bay Area and Reno.
El Dorado County District 4 Supervisor Ron Briggs requested a presentation from the Foster Youth and Human Trafficking Task Force at the Tuesday, April 22 board of supervisors meeting.
The presentation will focus on the task force, the scope of child sexual exploitation problems in El Dorado County and the need for education and prevention programs. It starts at 10 a.m.